Insect burger and balls

NZ Herald reports
Switzerland’s first insect-based food aimed at humans will go on sale next week after a revision of the country’s food safety laws, a supermarket chain has revealed.
Switzerland’s second-largest supermarket chain, Coop, announced it would begin selling an insect burger and insect balls, based on protein-rich mealworm.
According to the Daily Mail, the products, made by a Swiss startup called Essento, will be available in a handful of Coop branches, including in Geneva, Bern and Zurich, as of August 21.
Switzerland is the first European country to authorise the sale of insect-based food for human consumption, a spokeswoman for the country’s food safety authority told AFP.
Swiss food safety laws were changed in May to allow the sale of food containing crickets, grasshoppers and mealworms, which are the larval form of the mealworm beetle.
The insects, long used in animal feed, must be bred under strict supervision for four generations before they are considered suitable for human consumption, according to Swiss law.
Local production will thus take a few months to get started.
In the meantime, imports are possible under strict conditions: the insects must be raised in accordance with the Swiss requirements at a company submitted to inspections by national food safety authorities.
Insect dishes are already the norm in other countries.
According to the University of California, Riverside, eating insects, called entomophagy, has been practised by humans for thousands of years.
It’s still common in many tropical countries – according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, insects supplement the diets of about two billion people.
A popular snack food in Thailand, called jing leed, features deep-fried crickets served with a soy-type sauce.
In New Zealand, cricket flour and other insect flours are being introduced in specialist stores and at certain Mexico restaurants you can try cricket flour tortillas.


Everyone’s got a camera: Australian supermarket duopoly edition

A Brisbane man says he will stop shopping at Coles after he found dozens of tiny insects in a sealed packed of pasta.

Masood Rahimi, 29, said he bought the 500g packet of Coles brand Bowties pasta in New Farm over a week ago.

It wasn’t until he was about to open it on Sunday when a friend noticed something moving around inside.

Mr Rahimi said there were maybe 50 to 100 bugs inside the packet, which he threw away.

He said he made a video of bugs and uploaded it to Coles’ Facebook page but didn’t think it would cause an impact.

At  Woolworths, a mouse was found eating biscuits in the bakery aisle.

South Australian man Mickey Young was shopping at Woolworths Port Lincoln at the weekend when another shopper noticed a mouse eating a biscuit inside a display cabinet in the bakery aisle.

Mr Young, who is a baker himself, began filming the mouse eating the sweet treat before it ran off.

Woolworths has launched an investigation and begun pest control following the sighting.

Insects as food: Potential hazards and research needs

The consumption of insects or eat bugs, is a common practice in some parts of the world (Africa, Asia, Latin America), where it may become part of the traditional food culture.

thai.insects.foodTo meet the challenge of feeding the world in 2030, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has ruled in favor of the development of large-scale breeding insects. In anticipation of a possible development of these products in Europe or France, ANSES has made ​​an inventory of scientific knowledge on the risks associated with the consumption of insects. In its opinion published today, it makes an inventory of potential dangers carried by insects and research needs on this issue. Following this work, it recommends in particular to establish at Community level lists of species that can be consumed and to define a specific framework for breeding and production conditions of insects and their products, to ensure the control of health risks. Moreover, many insects and arthropods (mites, crustaceans, molluscs, etc.) With common allergens, ANSES recommends caution consumers with a predisposition to allergies.

The consumption of insects or eat bugs, is a common practice in some parts of the world (Africa, Asia, Latin America), where it may become part of the traditional food culture. FAO estimates that “insects complement the diets of about two billion people” in the world and in favor of the development of the breeding of insects on a large scale to meet the growing concerns over food security and protein supply.

In Europe, this practice seems to benefit from a growing interest and a number of industrial projects and research programs accompany this emerging sector, despite regulations (currently changing), which raises many questions.

In this context, ANSES has conducted an inventory of scientific knowledge on the subject, in particular regarding the potential health risks associated with consumption of insects and insect products, both food and feed.

Like all foods, insects can carry certain risks that must be controlled by the setting of specific standards to reduce the potential risks associated with the consumption of these products.

These hazards are mainly related:

to chemicals (poisons, anti-nutrients, veterinary drugs used in farming insects, pesticides or organic pollutants in the environment or insect feeding, etc.).

physical agents (hard parts of the insect sting like the rostrum, etc.).

to common allergens to all arthropods (mites, crustaceans, molluscs, etc.).

to parasites, viruses, bacteria and their toxins or fungi.

to breeding and production conditions for which should be defined specific supervision to ensure the control of health risks.

Moreover, in general, like other foods of animal or plant origin, edible insects may become, following an unsuitable preservation, unfit for human consumption.

The expert work of the Agency stresses the need for further research to conduct a full assessment of the health risks associated with consumption of insects. Furthermore, the development of such production chains insects from breeding to slaughter, should lead to the question of animal welfare, it has so far been little explored in most invertebrates.

The recommendations of the handles

In this context of uncertainty and lack of data, the Agency recommends:

accentuate the research effort on the sources of potential hazards;

to establish, at Community level, the positive and negative lists of different species and insect life stages may or may not be eaten;

to explore the issue of animal welfare for these categories of invertebrates;

to define a specific framework of the breeding and production of insects and their products to ensure the control of health risks;

setting allergic risk prevention measures, both for consumers and in the workplace.

Pending the establishment of specific standards and appropriate supervision, ANSES recommends caution consumers with a predisposition to allergies. Indeed, many insects and arthropods (mites, crustaceans, molluscs, etc.) Have common allergens.

Beyond the issues of expertise specifically associated with health risk assessment issues and nutritional benefits relating to the consumption of insects, ANSES emphasizes the strong knowledge of issues relating to the social acceptability of these new drinks or on issues of development and environmental impact associated with it.

‘Insects in room probably in food’ FDA (not) inspecting airline food

As we prepare to flee the summer stank of Brisbane for the Florida coast on the longest commercial flight in the world – Brisbane to Dallas — I’m comforted by my friend Roy Costa’s comments about airline food: it’s a time bomb.

ABC News 20/20 obtained lists of recent health violation records from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Over almost four years, the industry counted more than 1,500 health violations. “Significant” problems were found at a much higher rate than in other industries the FDA inspects, the agency said.

“You put that all together, and you have a time bomb,” said Roy Costa, a food-industry consultant and former health inspector (right, not exactly as shown).

FDA reported evidence of mice on Delta Airlines planes. In a statement, the airline said, “This clearly was an isolated incident and we cooperated with the FDA immediately to resolve it immediately after it was brought to our attention.”

For LSG Sky Chefs, the industry giant that provides food to many airlines, records showed company food facilities infested with ants crawling over discarded food, flies both dead and alive — and roaches all over.

If insects are in the room, they’re probably in the food, Costa said.

“You can’t have insect remains and feces of rodents and dead flies [in these areas],” Costa said.

In a statement, LSG Sky Chefs said, “Our facilities are inspected by several internal and external agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As with any FDA inspection, documented observations are indicated on a 483 form and if observations are cited at our facilities we immediately review and correct. In two cases, the FDA 483 forms led to the issuing of warning letters that were immediately addressed by us to ensure complete FDA compliance.”

At company after company, the FDA saw things like dirty cooking areas, old or moldy products and employees not washing their hands.

And those who fly business or first class and think the curtain protects them from the risk of contaminated food should think again, Costa warned.

“Fancy food isn’t safe food. The bacteria really don’t care.”

Costa addressed the report in his own blog, writing, “The comments by industry are predictable. The “we didn’t do it” philosophy, “head in the sand” approach is apparent, in spite of spin doctor statements. When you get caught with these types of issues, the public is not going to listen to the rhetoric about how great your food safety programs are, quite the contrary. Not one of these spokespersons would admit that their company had a problem or offer solutions, its all about denial. We see this again and again, especially after outbreaks.

“I lay much of the blame at the feet of FDA. This agency has the authority to stop such conditions and they opt time and again to walk away from problems and not take the tough stand that as consumers we expect, except in the most egregious of cases. … Taking a tough stand by inspectors is personally costly, it means confrontation, its perilous to careers and even to ones personal safety. I know this only too well, so I am very grateful to have an opportunity to again stand some ground against the food industry representatives who want to claim all is well in the face of mounting sanitation and health code violations and deceive themselves and the public.

“This type of public confrontation is what we need to dispel the false sense of security the food industry and FDA has created for itself.”

The complete post is available here.

Roy, see you in Florida.


How to make insects more upscale

Johan Van Dongen sells insects.

A bright, engaging man, Mr. Van Dongen is head of the meat department at Sligro, a kind of Costco on the edge of this trim Dutch town. Besides steaks, poultry and others kinds of meat, he offers mealworms, buffalo worms, locusts and other insects, as well as prepared products containing insects like Bugs Sticks and Bugs Nuggets — not for pets, but as a source of protein for people.

The New York Times reports that on a recent afternoon he arranged two sample stands, one with chunks of chocolate laced with ground mealworms (larvae for a type of beetle), another with various kinds of whole insects for munching, including worms and crickets, in small plastic containers.

The efforts of Mr. Van Dongen and Sligro, a chain of 25 membership-only warehouse stores throughout the Netherlands, are part of a drive to convince the Dutch that crickets, worms and caterpillars are healthier sources of protein, and are less taxing on the environment, than steaks and pork chops.

Dutch breeders of insects, who until now have supplied the market for pet food — insects for geckos and other lizards, salamanders, newts, frogs, birds or fish — have jumped at an opportunity to open a new market and have founded a trade organization to promote the idea. The government is backing them, and last year it appropriated $1.4 million for research into insects as food, to prepare legislation governing insect farms, health and safety standards, and marketing through retail outlets.

“The risky part is: How can we move this product upscale?” said Marian Peters, a public relations expert who is the organization’s general secretary, munching on Mr. Van Dongen’s insect-laced chocolate.

The risky part is, don’t make people barf.